South Shields teenager Josh Corner celebrated his best result ever at the final round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch – while the rest of the North boys had a weekend they would rather forget.
While it was all smiles and celebrations for Corner and the MJJ Motorsport team as he finished second in the Motorpoint British Supersport Cup, it was a more sedate end to the season for Supersport Championship runner Graeme Gowland, Superbike star Barry Burrell, and newly-crowned Triumph Triple Challenge champion Chrissy Rouse.
As the series finale arrived at the Kent circuit, wet weather on Friday made for a difficult time for everyone as they got to grips with the slippery track.
With many riders taking to the track for their first race on Saturday, the wet weather continued.
Rouse was out first, now running the coveted number one plate, but he made an uncharacteristic error and crashed out on the third lap.
Next was the Supersport sprint race and Corner had qualified 28th, while Graeme Gowland was left frustrated down in 12th on his Team Appleyard Macadam Doodson Yamaha.
The 16-year-old South Tyneside rider fought his way up to finish 21st, while Allendale’s Gowland crossed the line ninth. Burrell, meanwhile, retired from his first race of the day after technical problems with his Quattro Plant Kawasaki.
On Sunday, Rouse was out for his final race at around 11am, and earlier showers had stopped although the track was still wet. Determined to finish the race so he could pick up his new Chrissy Rouse ‘champion’ flag for a lap of honour, he coasted his Stratstone Triumph home in 10th.
“I wasn’t going out there to win or do anything stupid, I just wanted to finish the last race of the year and do a lap of honour with my flag, which was what I did,” he told The Journal.
“At one point I was trying to stay out of the way of the Cup boys who were still fighting for their championship, and I have to admit that racing when you’re not going for a title or desperate for the win is a bit weird. It was a good day and I’m champion now, so for me it was the perfect way to end.”
Burrell was back out again for Sunday’s first Superbike race, this time starting from 24th. He made a storming start, scything his way through to 13th in the opening lap but was forced to retire once again on lap eight.
For the final race of the year the Bishop Auckland rider lined up in 25th place and battled his way up to 21st but was once again denied a finish, pulling into retirement on lap 13.
In the Supersport class, Gowland had been looking for a better result starting from seventh on the grid, but the race was red-flagged as soon as it began because of a sudden downpour. As the grid lined up to start again as a ‘wet race’, Gowland’s team was unable to get his bike ready in time and he was forced to miss the race.
But further down the field, youngster Corner was ready to fight, starting from 21st and making up four places on the opening lap.
He then began picking off more and more bikes as he charged up to 12th overall and second in the Cup in just his third ever race in the class.
The race was stopped six laps early after a big crash ahead of him, and he was classified 11th overall and second in the cup, giving him his first visit to the podium to collect the silverware.
“It was just mint, it was just the best race I’ve ever had,” he said. “I felt really confident. The bike was running really well and the conditions just worked for me. A fair few riders behind me crashed out but I felt great.
“I knew I was having a good race because I was able to pass people easily but even though my pit board was saying I was second, I didn’t believe it until I came in and they waved me into parc ferme.”